20 May 2012 11:16 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Town officially changes name to Staines-upon-Thames, but not all residents are convinced

After suffering years of ridicule since Sacha Baron Cohen decided to make it the home of his creation Ali G, Staines has officially changed its name in an attempt to distance itself from the joke, to the more upmarket Staines-upon-Thames.

The long-debated revamp of the Surrey town prompted a day of celebrations on Sunday – from maypole dancing to a regatta – as the town set out to prove it was more glamorous than its M25 commuter-belt image, association with Ali G or its "ghost town" depiction by indie band Hard-Fi might suggest.

Spelthorne borough council, which pushed through the change after it was first suggested by a business forum, hopes it will bring more business to the town.

Colin Davis, one of its councillors, told the BBC: "Ali G may have had a role, but I think it goes back further than that. »

- James Meikle

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